Known as "boomerangs," they're a reflection of the unpredictable workplace of today-employees who leave a company and then come back in the same or another position. And they can be a very smart hiring decision.
Gone are the days when either employer or employee expected a mutual lifetime commitment. And gone, too, are the days when companies could afford a standard policy of refusing to rehire former workers.
"Hiring is always a gamble," explains Kaye Morgan, vice president of corporate offices in the Cleveland location of Management Recruiters International (MRI), an international search and recruitment firm. "You want to minimize the risk. If you've got someone who has been with your company before, knows the culture, has skills you need and wants to come back, your chances of success are much greater than they are with someone who's brand new to your organization."
When people leave and come back, they often return with additional skills and experience that make them even more valuable than before. And they probably aren't any more or less likely to leave than anyone else you might hire.
"Never lose touch with good past employees," advises Morgan. Not only might they return in the future, but they could even turn into customers. And though your ego may have been bruised by their resignations, put your personal feelings aside. "If they're good, they're people you want to be a part of your future, regardless of the capacity," says Morgan. "Stay in touch through e-mail, phone calls, cards, whatever."
Before you make an offer to a former employee, Morgan recommends carefully reviewing the individual's old personnel file and talking to his or her former supervisor. "You don't want to rehire a problem employee, and that could happen very easily if there's been turnover in the department or people weren't aware of performance issues with that employee," she says.
You also want to take care of the employees who didn't leave. Be aware that there might be resentment of boomerangs who come back at higher positions or salaries. Morgan suggests being open and honest about what you're doing and why, and being proactive in rewarding the loyalty of long-term employees and developing strong employee retention programs.
Jacquelyn Lynn left the corporate world more than 13 years ago and has been writing about business and management from her home office in Winter Park, Florida, ever since.